The Priesthood // Part 3
Over the last couple of Sundays, we have been discussing the priesthood. We began our discussion with the question “why is there a need for a priesthood”. We then looked at the very first mention of a priest in the Bible and then talked about Israel’s calling to be a “kingdom of priests” to the Lord. If you’d like to catch up, those talks are available online. God’s desire to fellowship with humanity has not changed, nor has humanity’s calling to know God. God sent an evangelist into the world – Abraham and intended to use Abraham’s descendants as the people who would teach the world how to fellowship with God. The trust of the priesthood given to Israel made it possible for the presence of the Lord to be with man, to learn God’s ways, and provided a system of atonement to make these things possible. But, the priesthood given to Israel could not return humanity to its status in the Garden: to a pure and holy state without the dominance of a sin nature. Soon, Israel also rejected its purpose and defiled the priesthood passed to them – reiterating the need for a more perfect Priesthood. Abraham was the first man to meet the High Priest of God and to get a glimpse into the High Priest’s future ministry. Remember the words of Jesus?
Your father Abraham was overjoyed to see My day. He saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?” “Truly, truly, I tell you,” Jesus declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!” /// John 8:56-58 (Berean Study Bible)
Jesus connected the dots for Abraham’s descendants – declaring Himself to be the One who Abraham saw and the One who would come and perfect that which was lacking – to come and make the atonement and the transformation of mankind complete. Abraham recognized Jesus but his descendants did not and rejected Him – fulfilling Jesus’ ministry by condemning Him. Why is Jesus’ high priesthood superior to that of Aaron’s descendants?
1. Jesus’ priesthood is eternal.
Jesus has become a high priest forever. Aaronic priests died and therefore had only a temporary priesthood. But Jesus abides forever through His resurrection from the dead – a priest according to the order of Melchizedek and therefore had a permanent priesthood through which He can save us completely and eternally.
But He (Jesus), because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. /// Hebrews 7:24-25
2. The priesthood of Jesus is perfect.
If the Aaronic priesthood had brought perfection there would have been no need for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is perfect and therefore is able to destroy every sin, addiction, and bondage known to man.
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and the for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. /// Hebrews 7:26-28
3. Jesus’ priesthood is sympathetic.
Israelites who were a part of the Aaronic priesthood were made such simply because of their lineage. But, Jesus became a priest by choice because of His love and sympathy for us. He was a partaker of flesh and blood like we are. He offered His body willing as a sacrifice for our sins. He was tempted in all ways as we are. He suffered as we do. He faced the devil as we do. It is a voluntary priesthood based upon love and sympathy.
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. /// Hebrews 2:14-15
Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. /// Hebrews 2:17-18
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. /// Hebrews 4:15-16
When Melchizedek appeared to Abraham, he was both priest and king. Let’s finish with the reference to Jesus:
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. /// Hebrews 10:12-13
In this passage, we see a reference to the dual nature of Jesus: His priestly ministry and His royalty. In the most titanic and amazing event in history, Jesus completes all that is necessary to fulfill God’s desire to be able to walk with mankind and restore humanity’s calling to know God. The priesthood given to Israel is perfected and the outreach to the world continues.
- John 8:56-58 (Berean Study Bible)
- Hebrews 7:24-25, 26-28
- Hebrews 2:14-15, 17-18
- Hebrews 4:15-16
- Hebrews 10:12-13
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